« ZurückWeiter »
taking that independence in its most un | have happened since he left his official qualified sense, was it sufficient to esta situation, and wipes them over by the deblish the connexion, while it was held a ficiency of memory. I acquit the hon. positive doctrine that some farther points general of being any party to the acknowshould be discussed and agreed to ? ledged plan of promoting the connexion This subject gives rise to another consi- by farther measures; but if he will conderation against the final adjustment of sult certain documents, he will find that 1782. The acknowledged and established the great and primary object of the noble independence of two separate legislatures duke's filling the situation of lord lieute. has been advanced as a reason of concilia- nant was, to complete the connexion tion between them; but if this reason be which had been left defective by the adproperly weighed, it will be found to ope- justment of 1782. I do not hesitate to rate in a contrary way, since the very se-affirm, that the mind of the noble duke, paration of their rights and powers is more on that occasion, never failed to be imcalculated to disunite than to conciliate. pressed with the substitution of some new Having said so much on this point, I feel system for the settlement of 1782; and I it important to sift it to the bottom. In maintain, that that system was not a sysconsequence of the statement made by the tem confined to commercial consideraparliament of Ireland, against the power tions, but extending to questions of impeclaimed by the parliament of Great Bri- rial regulation and arrangement. This tain, of making laws for them, a bill was was, I repeat, the constant object of the judged wanting to repeal the act of George noble duke, while the hon. general was 1st, and a motion to that effect was as- secretary in Ireland. I am ready to furnish sented to by the British parliament. This proofs of what I advance; and I maintain, power assumed was therefore laid aside by without the fear of being contradicted, that ihe repeal of the Declaratory law. After the primary object of the duke, when this had passed, an address to his ma- at the head of the government in Ireland, jesty was carried, praying him to take was directed to the establishment of a new such farther measures as might appear to system, calculated to promote and perpehim proper to strengthen the connexion tuate the connexion between the two between the two countries. A resolution countries. It is very far from my iptenof the committee stated, that it was hoped tion to argue, that the settlement of 1782 bis majesty would be graciously pleased pledged the parties to the measure of a to take such measures as would establish union; but I contend that it clearly went the connexion on a solid and permanent to the necessity of some new system; and basis. And what, Sir, was the conse- the question now is, whether the proposed quence of that resolution ? The next union does not essentially constitute that day, Mr. Secretary Fox reported to the new system? I am decidedly of opinion, House, bis majesty's most gracious an- that it naturally grows out of what is im. swer, “ That he would take such mea- properly termed the final adjustment. sures as might be necessary for that pur. The right hon. general says, that I was pose.” With the view of fulfilling that a party to the adjustment of 1782. I adimportant object, the duke of Portland mit that, in point of fact, I was; but if was sent to Ireland, with the right hon. the right hon. general means that I exgentleman as his secretary, and I now ask pressed decided opinions, and took an bim, were there not instructions given to active part on that occasion, I must deny him then for the accomplishment of the the charge. I believe I did not open my farther arrangements? I hope he will an- mouth on the subject. I was not in an swer me, Yes or No. Does he say that official situation, and had no opportunity there was no pledge given to establish the of knowing the intentions of government. connexion beiween both kingdoms? The but by their public declarations. As a right hon. gentleman says, that his recol. member of parliament, I was ostensibly lection of what passed when he was in implicated in the determination of the office is clear and perfect. I do not ex- House. I went so far as to admit the inactly know what he means by the obser- dependence of the Irish parliament, but I, vation, unless he means that it is more did not agree to any measure that prepleasing to recollect transactions which vented farther arrangements. have passed during the tinie he remained General Fitzpatrick said, that though he in office, and that he thinks it less plea- certainly had access to the official dissant to remember circumstances which patches transmitted to government while [VOL, XXXIV.)
lie acted as secretary to the duke of Port- duct of the duke of Portland since had Jand, it could not be supposed that, after shown, that he had considered it in this a period of sixteen years, he could be able light. to speak with accuracy to their contents; Mr. Sheridan said, that the right hon. but this he could assert, that the objects gentleman was offended with the compawhich the duke at that period had in view rison to the conduct of France with regard (as far as he was acquainted with them) to Switzerland; but in the odium of that did not relate to any imperial constitu- comparison, he begged leave to share with tional points. The appointment of com- his hon. friend, for, in principle, the conmissioners was in agitation, but the ar- duct of the right hon. gentleman was the rangements to be considered were not same as the most Jacobinical proceeding such as the right hon. gentleman had sugo of the Directory. He was not awed by gested. This much he could state with the sounding eloquence of the right hon. certainty, that, in the Irish House of Com- gentleman, as he had so often found, that mons, he had said, in answer to Mr. Flood, in proportion as his argument was weak, that it was not in the contemplation of the he endeavoured to cover its defects by government to bring forward any thing to lofty words. What was the case? Were affect the final settlement which had been a French declaimer, with a hundredth made, or to touch on any constitutional part of the right hon. gentleman's powers, points; and this declaration was made on to review the history of Ireland, might he the arrival of the news of the resolution of not plausibly represent, that after two this House, which had been insisted upon. hundred years of oppression, the inde It was to be recollected too, that the duke pendence of Ireland was at last recogof Portland had been but two months nized in 1782; that under the advice of in Ireland in an official situation, his British ministers, its affairs had been so longer stay having been occasioned by a conducted, that in sixteen years it was fall from his horse, after he had ceased to left in such a condition as to be unable to have any share in government. It was protect itself either against foreign force true that the mode of appointing commis- or domestic disaffection; the minister sioners for treating of the points in view, then sends 40,000 troops to her aid, which was once thought of by the duke, but it she receives with gratitude, till at last was afterwards abandoned, as it was con Ireland is told that she must incorporate ceived that the business might be done with Great Britain ? Would not this be without commissioners.
represented as a fraud, to abuse the weakMr. Tierney said, he had met with an ness of Ireland for the destruction of her authentic document of the understanding independence? It was said, indeed, that on the business in Ireland in 1782. It no force was to be used, that her free was the address of the House of Commons consent would be required. This country, on the resolutions in question. That ad- however, was to claim the privilege of dress was moved by Mr. Grattan, and one judging when Ireland was free to judge clause of it stated, that in consequence of for herself; she was to be considered as what had been done, no constitutional mad and intoxicated till she acceded to question could now arise to interrupt the the proposition which we resolve is neces. harmony between the two countries. The sary for her interests. In principle, this debate arose on this clause; it was sug- was the same as the conduct of France, so gested by the recorder of Dublin, that much reprobated. It was nothing to say actual recognition, instead of mere repeal that it was for the good of Ireland, if that of the 6th George Ist, was necessary. He good was thrust upon her by compulsion. found, in the same authentic record, the Intimidation of every kind was used to speech of his right hon. friend, general effect the object. Every placeman who Fitzpatrick, on this occasion. That speech dared to vote according to his own judgstated his right hon. friend to have said, ment, was deprived of his place. When that if the final adjustment was not consi. such motives were addressed to men's dered as having settled the whole ques- minds, to induce them to submit to the tion, he had no hopes that it ever would views of the minister, it was a mockery to be settled. The House divided for the say that no corruption and intimidation clause, and there was for it 210, and were used. An hon. gentleman took ofagainst it only the two tellers. It was to fence at the supposition of a mercenary be presumed, then, that the business support; but without ascribing motives to was considered as settled, and the con- the conduct of members of parliament, it so happened, that many of those who from which this country could be atjoined the minister for the support of the tacked.—To return to the subject then: war, had got their job, their place, or To the fatal policy which dictated the pension. In reply to what was said of recall of earl Fitzwilliam, was to be attrithe mischievous consequences of retract- buted the calamities by which Ireland had ing the pledge given to the Catholics in been distracted. Those who advised that Ireland, allusion had been made to the fatal step were responsible for its conseconfessions of the conspirators in that quences. The retraction of that concescountry, and of a person in particular, sion which earl Fitzwilliam was authorized described as his friend, and a reference to support, had prepared the Catholics to the testimonies at Maidstone. He had for the share they had taken in the late seen many attempts made out of doors, to disturbances. Ministers had been chal. implicate those who gave evidence at lenged by the noble earl to deny that he Maidstone in the guilt of Mr. O'Connor. went over with conciliation to the CathoHad those, who are supposed to influence lics as a leading object of his policy. It the ministerial press, been distinguished was said, that the emancipation of the Caby the least candour, they would have tholics was not the object of the conspiradrawn a quite different inference from that tion; but could it be denied that the disoccurrence from that which they had la content of the Catholics was the instruboured to enforce. It was evident from ment by which the conspirators promoted the very paper, a connexion with which their own purposes ? was the guilt imputed to Mr. O'Connor at The Solicitor General said, that the Maidstone, that the persons who gave hon. gentleman seemed to labour under a evidence to his character, were those least mistake as to the nature of the case at likely to favour the designs of France, and Maidstone. Certainly, if the jury had who had the least to expect, had their known that Mr. O'Connor was the traitor projects succeeded. It proved, that there he confessed himself to be, they would was one spirit and one feeling in the have found him guilty. There was no country to resist the attempts of the such distinction as the hon. gentlemen enemy. Such was the comment which had reasoned upon. Every Irishman was that event naturally suggested; but a in the eye of law an Englishman, and quite different construction had been stu- vice versa ; nor would the nature of the diously given to it. He should confine crime of treason be in any degree affected himself to the evidence he himself had to which ever of the two countries a pergiven on O'Connor's trial. He did not son under trial belonged. With respect retract that evidence, and he called upon to the argument respecting the final ada learned gentleman who had been pre justment of 1782, he thought it to sent at the trial, to point out any incon- be chiefly a dispute about words. From sistency in his conduct. He knew that the nature of the transaction it could not Mr. O'Connor always spoke in strong be complete and final; and at the time, terms of any interference of foreign force there was a general belief that it would in the affairs of England, and his mind be followed up by something farther. seemed so much impressed with the supe- This was particularly stated in the Manrior grievances of Ireland, that he would chester petition at the time of the comnot admit that, on the comparison, Eng. mercial propositions. land had any cause whatever to complain. Mr. Perceval said :- The hon. gentleHe might have differed from Mr. O'Con- man professes not to understand what we nor respecting the remedy that was to be on this side of the House can gain by applied to the situation of Ireland; but talking of the final adjustment. He will, upon that point he was not called upon to however, recollect, that it did not come say any thing. Mr. O'Connor never had from us. The hon. gentleman himself made him his confidant. He knew too brought it forward : le quoted the Jourwell his opinion respecting foreign inter- nals in opposition to the measure, and acference, to give any reason to suppose, cused us of acting contrary to our en. that it was a thing which O'Connor could gagements with the Irish parliament. If encourage. With respect to the provoca. the hon. gentleman thinks that nothing is tion of Ireland to pursue any particular gained by refuting an argument of his mode of resistance, he should say nothing; own, I am indeed willing to admit that it was enough to say, that he never could nothing was gained by this discussion on permit Ireland to be seized on as a post the final adjustment; but he should also
recollect, that this was his chief argument. a foreign enemy, and from the general seAnother point, I think, is to be gained by curity and benefit which they derive from it, which is, that those who were favour- Great Britain, you leave them no liberty able to that measure are pledged to this, of choice nor option. The result of this or something of the same kind, as it was argument is, that if you can multiply the admitted at the time that something in advantages which Ireland enjoys from her addition to that measure was then neces- relation to England, you destroy their sary to be done. In applying this to the free judgment; and the inference is present case, we contend that the neces. therefore, that you should wait for a time sity of adopting this farther remedy is when Ireland shall reap less advantages, more urgent at present.-- An hon. gentle- and when she can examine the merits and man has brought forward an address voted demerits of the measure in a more unby the Irish House of Commons, which biassed manner. The hon. gentleman he conceived to be unanswerable. I do not, deprecates the discussion of the measure however, agree in this. His majesty re- as a means of irritating the minds of the quires by a message to know what are the Irish people. I am sorry that throughout grievances of which Ireland complains. the whole of the debate, he has not atThey state that they require an indepen- tended to this circumstance. If he had, dent legislature. Upon this being granted he would not have employed the similies to them, they say that their constitutional which he has done, nor would he have grievances are at an end; but they do not asserted, that the conduct of this country mean that there may be no imperial griev- towards Ireland was like that of France
If there was so great a majority towards Switzerland. It has been asked, in the Irish House of Commons on the what can be gained by the discussion of address in which the passage which he the measure in this House after it has has quoted occurs, it is rather extraordi- been rejected in Ireland ? It is impossi. nary that in the following year there ble, however, with justice to those in Ireshould be so great a majority requiring a land who have come forward in favour of renunciation on the part of Great Britain it, to abandon it here. One of the arguof her power. It is absurd to say, that the ments against the union was, that it one was final and conclusive, while imme- would be a violation of the pledge of indiately afterwards they require something dependence which had been formerly more final and more conclusive. Perhaps given. Why then, if the House does we may be inclined to infer from this pro- not give government an opportunity of ceeding that the first impression which recording its sentiments, this imputation the parliament of Ireland entertain upon may continue for ever: in fact, no such a subject is not always the most lasting, idea exists; there is no intention of combut that they sometimes change their opi- pelling or coercing the parliament of Ire. nions--The hon. gentleman adverts to land, but of submitting to their free opithe time when this measure is brought for- nion what is for the advantage of their ward, and “ the period when you country. Another benefit is to be derived have chosen to propose this union, is, from the discussion of the measure in this when you can most insult the parliament House, which is, that the objections of Ireland by it; you bring it forward against the competence of parliament to when they cannot reject it. Yet one of the discussion may be examined. How. the arguments of the hon. gentleman is, ever these arguments may have been that they will reject it. Such, he says, is urged on the other side of the water, the force in Ireland, that the parliament there is not a man in this House who has of that country cannot enter on the dis- distinctly asserted that parliament is incussion of the subject with any degree of competent to the discussion. The hon. freedom. “You have,” he says, “ 40,000 gentleman who deprecated the discussion, men in arms in that country;" but it is but who entered on it, and who left it to not to any effect of this body of men in be refuted by the other side, was most overawing the parliament of Ireland that desirous that it should be understood that he objects, but he says, by withdrawing he did not support the proposition. It this force you would expose them to the would be in vain to go into an argument danger of ruin. Thus, by withdrawing on a subject on which no advocate has the advantages which they enjoy from the been found to assert it as his own opinion. connexion with Great Britain, from the It is possible that a very considerable danger to which Ireland is exposed from effect may be produced in Ireland by the discussion of this subject, when it is seen be construed into an adoption or sanction that this objection which is considered as of that doctrine. But he had met with most strong in Ireland, has not found two positive and explicit declarations above three or four advocates here ; that against the competency of the Irish parthe parliament of England, as jealous of liament, personally made by two men also the rights of the people as that of Ireland, of great celebrity in that country, and has suffered the discussion to go on indeed, he believed over all Europe; the without objections—a discussion which is one, Mr. Lewins, now the accredited am. absolutely indispensable, and which if bassador from the fraternity of united it were not now to take place, it would Irishmen to the French republic; the be impossible ever again to bring for other Dr. M. Nevin, late one of the Irish ward.
directory. That fraternity had, from its Mr. Sheridan did not deny the compe- first institution in 1791, been alarmed at tence of the English parliament to accept the idea that a union between the kingthe surrender, but of the Irish parliament doms might defeat their projects. In to make it.
1795, at a meeting held in Dublin, where Mr. Sylvester Douglas said, he should those persons, and others of the same sort, not have risen at present, had it not been had defamed the character of the Irish for what had just fallen from Mr. Sheri- Catholics by assuming that description, dan, and which was a repetition of a doc- when many of them, were, in truth, trine the same gentleman had advanced atheists, the apprehension of a union in a former debate when he had contended, being then strong in their minds,-Mr. that the English parliament, in 1706, Lewins declared his opinion of the inmight have a right to accept the surrender competency of the parliament to such a of the legislative dominion of Scotland, measure, in the following terms : “ Who and yet the Scotch parliament have been shall dare to assert that the parliament of incompetent to surrender its authority to Ireland can do this? No man but an that of the greater country; and from enemy to both countries : a traitor to the thence he had argued, that the reasoning king and the people.” Dr. M. Nevin, by which on one side of the House it had the
ex-director, in the same assembly had been maintained, that if the competency in a loftier style, expressed himself thus : of the Irish parliament was denied, it “ Parliament is incompetent to such an would follow, that the union with Scoto act of national suicide. Can the creature land was illegal, the present and all of the people, with parricidal arm, destroy other British parliaments usurpers, and the author of its existence? The attempt every act of parliament since that time a would be high treason against the nanullity, was fallacious and ill-founded : tion, and put it out of the protection of but that the point now was, not whether society." He quoted these words from the British parliament could receive, but what had been printed as “ The authentic whether the Irish parliament had any right Statement of the Proceedings of a Meeting to make the sort of surrender proposed, to held in Francis-street Chapel, 9th April, Great Britain. In this view of the sub-1795.” He would now state, who were such ject, it was important that the House enemies to both countries, traitors to the should be apprized of the opinions in king and the people, parricides who were Ireland on this point. He would state to not
entitled to the protection of society. the House some particulars on the sub- The persons, among others, on whom ject. He had undoubtedly read various those loyal subjects, the ambassador addresses and resolutions of certain public Lewins, and the director M. Nevin, had meetings in Ireland, in which this doc- passed this judgment, were a great majotrine of the incompetency of that parlia- rity of that estate of the Irish parliament, ment was asserted; the names of those whose exclusive privilege and function it who had come to those resolutions did not is, in the last resort, to expound and deappear, but several of them had been clare the law of the land ; and, in that communicated to two distinguished per- majority were to be found the four heads sons in that country, Mr. Foster, and sir of the jurisprudence and supreme tribuJohn Parnell: but having read, with nals of the kingdom,-lord Clare; the great attention, the several answers of high chancellor of Ireland, whose great those gentlemen, he had been happy to talents were acknowledged by all men : observe, that they had avoided any thing lord Yelverton, the lord chief baron, emiwhich could in the most distant manner nent for his learning and patriotism,